I remember reading about this book in a blog post one time. There’s a group of people on a spaceship who are immortal, who spend 5000 years proving a mathematical theorem, simply because they can. There is a group of crabs, or maybe scorpions, who live on an asteroid, and derive some form of advanced mathematics, possibly orbital mechanics, completely independently of anyone else using their experiences in their environment.

I think the manner of the blog post (which was possibly written by the author) implied it was recent, but I barely remember it.

It was probably mentioned on the personal website of the author, and the whole thing may have been either part of a serialized sci-fi publication, or its own standalone story.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. When approximately did you read about this book?
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 3:56
  • I posted about this on Reddit to no avail about a year ago, and I think I remember reading about it at least a year before that. I'd say, then, probably 2021, though my guess back then as to its date range was late 2010's. Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 4:01
  • Perhaps they were lobsters, although someone else suggested Accelerando and I didn't think that was it. Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 4:17
  • Stephen Baxter's "Time: Manifest" has a group of squid put onto an asteroid, I believe they eventually form their own civilisation. And his unrelated "Timelike Infinity" has a spaceship carrying immortal humans who venture into the future initially 1,500 years, later more, using relativity. (So less than 1,500 for them - but they are immortal.) I don't remember them being into a mathematical theorem. Could it be a blog post about Baxter that mentioned these two? (No supporting quotes, so just a comment not an answer) Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure about any of the following.

This might be Incandescence (2008) by Greg Egan. There's two parallel plots. One is a crazily high-tech civilisation of humans and many other species, rather like Iain Banks's "Culture", who are able to do things like upload themselves into computers and download themselves into genetically-engineered, lab-grown new bodies, so they partly are immortal. I don't remember the thing about the mathematical theorem, but it sounds like the kind of thing they'd do.

The other is a species of insectoids living in an asteroid, who have forgotten nearly everything their society ever knew about physics, but something strange is happening to the spin of the asteroid, so a group of them start building simple measuring tools and trying to work out the laws of physics from scratch - and hopefully do something about it before it's too late. (One of the Goodreads reviews mentions that Egan remarks on his website that this plot is one of those ones that you might need to keep a paper and pen handy and take notes to work out what's going on).

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    A Google excerpt of Incandescence shows that one of the human characters has been looking for a particular kind of interesting theorem for 1300 years (most of that character's lifespan thus far).
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 14:58
  • "You don't need to turn every mathematical space into a kind of scape, and literally inhabit it, in order to understand it. Anchored in three dimensions obeying mundane physics, we can still reason about any system you care to describe with sufficient clarity. That's what general intelligence means, after all." 'How long have you been searching for something like this?' Rakesh asked. 'Thirteen hundred years,'
    – Andrew
    Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 15:02
  • This is almost certainly what I've been looking for! Now I just need to find the blog post that described it to me, to make it fully certain. I remember it being beige and old-fashioned. Commented Sep 29, 2023 at 15:12

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